Designers Must Know Audience

Rebranding is tricky business, especially if you already have a huge fan base that isn’t so big on change. Get it wrong and the backlash can deferential.  With social media being used as the number one medium for communication it doesn’t take long for negative feedback to spin out of control. On a large scale, we can remember what happened when Gap revealed a new logo (if not click here). Recently Yahoo also when down the same road, however, this is a bit off topic as we are going to be touching on what happens when people attached to everything their old logo represented, and designers fail to regard this.

For this example were going to take a look at what happened at Everton Football Club, based in Merseyside England. To set the stage for us that don’t follow soccer, Everton is one of the oldest clubs in the world and have played at a top-tier level for a record setting 110 years.  So you can bet their fans are extremely passionate, it goes without saying the crest is a big part of their lives –  for some it’s part of their bodies….So what happens when the club decides to change an image that is ingrained in the hearts (and bodies) of many – the logo.

logo fail

Old logo to the left, new logo to the right.

Let’s just say the feedback from the fans didn’t go over well:

“I could have done a better job myself”

I doubt that’s true, but you get the point. Many of them were outraged that the motto and the laurel wreaths were removed. See on the design side it made sense: the crest was too hard to reproduce and the crest/logo needed to be modernized. Here is a breakdown summarizing the changes:

  1. The two laurel wreathes are no more
  2. The club motto ‘Nil Satis Nisi Optimum’ and banner have been removed
  3. The typeface for 1878 has been changed and is now less prominent
  4. The illustration of Prince Rupert’s Tower has been redrawn completely
  5. The shape of the containing crest is now fatter and more bulbous
  6. The radial gradient has been replaced by a solid and more vibrant blue
  7. ‘The typeface for ‘Everton’ has been tweaked slightly and now placed inside the crest

In the end, some professional designers said, “there are some improvements, but that it has possibly been simplified too much”. I agree.  The motto on the original design must mean a whole lot, to a whole lot of people – very daring to just throw it out completely in creating the new design. Someone also mentioned that the new illustration of Prince Rupert’s Tower, has become so simplified that it now looks like a curious clown…no one wants to look like a bunch of clowns on the football field.

The negative backlash from fans on the redesign have been so strong that a petition was drafted to change the crest back. In response to this petition and the 20,000 people who signed it, a statement was released by the official website by Everton FC Chief Executive, Robert Elstone. It reads:

“Clearly the weekend’s response has meant that we have reviewed how we went about the whole of the re-design process and while many objectives were achieved, we recognized we missed the key part out.

Our chairman had demanded widespread consultation and we stopped short of that. We talked to our Fans’ Forum, our commercial partners and our experienced staff around the club. That was not enough.

We want to put this right. While the time-constraints of kit suppliers in particular present challenges, which inevitably means the version released on Saturday will be in operation for the 2013/14 season, we are determined to give our fans a greater say in how we represent the club on our jerseys, at Goodison Park and across media around the world.

In advance of the 2014-15 campaign, we are turning to you to help us shape and refine the badge we’ll adopt in the future. Evertonians from all sections of the fan-base will be pulled together in a fully transparent way.”

So with that, the logo would be changed for the 2014 – 15 season, could it look something like this?

what could be, everton mock up

A designers mock-up ideas for possible solutions.

It’s nice to see companies listening to their audience, and in the same token, worrying that social media has such a strong voice through online conversation that it can help shape the identities of the companies themselves.  In the end, it would help if design teams get it right in the first place, and you know, actually consulted their people before changing something that obviously means so much to so many.

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Designers Must Know Their Audience
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Designers Must Know Their Audience
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When we look to design a logo, it's important to take the audience into consideration. Sounds simple enough - sometimes it's the simple things that get over-looked. That was the case for the design team who worked on the Everton Football Club logo.
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